Scouting the Hawks: Tough defense, and who stops Smith?

Briefing SessionRJ

After winning their second road game of the season on Monday, the San Antonio Spurs (11-7) return home, where they are 9-1. The Spurs host the Al Horford-less Atlanta Hawks, the Hawks come into the Alamo City with a highly efficient defensive reputation, and the third best record overall in the NBA.

Case No. 19: Atlanta Hawks

Record: 13-5, road: 5-4,  last 10 games: 8-2, vs. West: 2-1

Commendable areas for the Hawks

  • Defense: First off, through 18 games, the Hawks have not allowed an opponent to shoot 50% or better. The Hawks hold their opponents to 43% shooting from the field and limit their opponents to 91 points per game which is ranked 7th in the NBA.
  • Offense: The Hawks score an average of 97.9 points per game; which is ranked 6th in the league. The team shoots 45% from the field; which is ranked 10th in the league, and they shoot 39% from beyond the arc (5th in NBA). The Hawks’ passing is ranked 4th in the NBA with 22.4 assists per game and they take care of the ball as they’re ranked second to last with 12.9 turnovers per game.

Deficient area for the Hawks

So far statistically, the Hawks aren’t terrible in one specific category. If they’re not ranked in the top of most categories, they’re ranked somewhere in the middle of the others. When you have a strong defensive unit like Atlanta does, the rest of your system begins to produce effectively on all other parts of the floor.

Who wears the Hawks jerseys?

Backcourt

Starter: Jeff Teague-12.6 points, 5.7 assists, 2.11 steals- Tony Parker will have his work cut out for him as he not only has to lead the Spurs on offense, but he also has to defend the young Teague who is playing very good basketball for the Hawks right now.

Starter: Joe Johnson-19.1 points-Kawhi Leonard didn’t play much against the Hornets, but Leonard could see more minutes as he faces one of the league’s premier perimeter scorer’s in Johnson. Since Al Horford went out with his injury, Johnson has been average 22.9 points per game in his absence and the Hawks are 6-1.

Willie Green

Jannero Pargo

Jerry Stackhouse- I had no idea Stackhouse was still in the NBA? He’s actually a really good piece for this young team as he can be the “veteran” in the locker room to give advice to the younger players throughout the season.

Donald Sloan

The Wing

Starter: Marvin Williams-9.7 points, 5.5 rebounds

Tracy McGrady-7.3 points, 47% FG-McGrady is having a quiet productive season for the Hawks, he’s even used in crunch time on occasion.

Frontcourt

Starter: Josh Smith-16.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.39 steals, 1.83 blocks-It’s going to be tough for the Spurs to find anyone who can matchup with Smith. He’s too fast for Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter, and Matt Bonner. The best chance of defending Smith might rest on either DeJuan Blair or Richard Jefferson’s shoulders as they both have the height and athleticism to stay on pace with Smith, not exactly stop him though.

Starter: Zaza Pachulia

IJVladimir Radmonovic

Ivan Johnson-This is Ivan Johnson.

Jason Collins

Injuries

Kirk Hinrich-left shoulder surgery (out), Al Horford-torn left pectoral muscle (out)

Hawks Offense

Johnson 16.2 FGA, Smith 14.1 FGA, Teague 10.6 FGA, Williams 7.9 FGA

Game expectation

This should be a good game with great individual matchups to watch for as the Spurs and Hawks both present problems to each other on different parts of the floor. Duncan and Splitter should have their way withAtlanta offensively, but defensively Smith could create major problems in the frontcourt. The key area where the Spurs can have an advantage in this game is with their bench. If Danny Green, Gary Neal, and Matt Bonner come out and put together quality minutes while the starters rest, the team should be able to keep up with the Hawks.

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX, and the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Paul has been featured on WOAI, Fox 29, and numerous nationwide radio shows.

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